Who Is Responsible for Workplace Safety Other Than Management?

More than 100,000 workers are seriously injured by falls every year. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, so the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is vigilant for signs of fall safety violations.

Workers can be seriously injured falling through incomplete roofs or open skylights. Additionally, equipment can fall through those same openings and injure workers below.

Guardrails are mandatory for workers exposed to a drop of six feet or higher, and toeboard protections are needed to protect workers on lower levels from falling tools.

OSHA requires businesses to appoint a “competent person” to supervise workers at every work site. By definition, a competent person needs to be someone “capable of identifying existing hazards or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees.”

Competent people must also have the authority to take “prompt corrective measures to eliminate [workplace hazards].” Essentially, this person represents management and makes sure that workers abide by OSHA regulations.

US Demco of Brooklyn Inc., a New York contractor, was fined $45,200 for failing to provide fall protection while workers demolished a three-story residential building.

The construction company also failed to provide guardrails or toeboards for workers on the second and third floor. More importantly, the construction site failed to assign a competent person to oversee the work.

OSHA determined that management had risked workers’ lives by failing to provide adequate safety equipment or supervise their workers. The company has 15 days to contest OSHA’s findings.

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